The Shiv Sena was likely to join Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s government in Maharashtra and get a third of ministerial berths, though not the post of deputy chief minister, it appeared on Saturday.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley joined BJP president Amit Shah in the negotiations with the Sena. Anil Desai, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s emissary, called on Jaitley.
The government will be required to prove its majority during a three-day Assembly session later this month. The BJP is learnt to be inclined towards capping the ministry at 30 or 32 for now, 10 of which it is willing to leave to the Sena. The one-third formula is based on the seats the two parties have in the 288-member House: the BJP has 122, Sena 63, a ratio of 2:1.
While the BJP seemed agreeable to sharing some key infrastructure and social sector portfolios with the Sena, it has decided to keep the four most coveted ministries of Home, Revenue, Finance, Urban Development with itself.
The Sena will, however, join the government only after the trust vote. “There is no question of a cabinet expansion before the vote of trust in the assembly. Any exercise to induct the Shiv Sena will take place after the CM wins the vote of confidence,” a senior BJP leader said.
A day after the Sena president attended Fadnavis’s swearing-in ceremony, the chief minister paid floral tributes at the memorial to Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park. He was accompanied by his cabinet colleague Vinod Tawde.
Fadnavis’s initiative was intended to send out the signal of the BJP’s continuing reverence for the Sena’s founder. A top Sena leader told The Sunday Express that Uddhav had attended the swearing-in ceremony only after he had been assured that the BJP would prefer the Sena over the NCP as a partner in government.
The CM said on Saturday, “Talks between the BJP and Sena are moving in the right direction. They are positive.”